Round 1, Game 5 Preview: Flyers-Canadiens

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Under normal circumstances, back-to-back games in the playoffs is highly uncommon. But these aren't normal circumstances, not when 12 teams have been sharing one arena for games. Not when everyone is playing in the same place and there is no travel involved.

It makes for a quick turnaround for the Flyers from their second straight shutout win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday night gives the Flyers the chance to finally get back on the right side of a playoff series result. They have a 3-1 lead and are a win away from their first playoff series win in over eight years. 

Game 5 is set for 8 p.m.

Team Leaders

Philadelphia Flyers GP G A P Montreal Canadiens GP G A P
Scott Laughton 7 3 2 5 Shea Weber 8 3 2 5
Kevin Hayes 7 0 5 5 Jesperi Kotkaniemi 8 4 0 4
Jake Voracek 6 2 2 4 Paul Byron 8 1 3 4
Michael Raffl 3 2 1 3 Jeff Petry 8 2 1 3
Joel Farabee 5 2 1 3 Nick Suzuki 8 1 2 3
Player to Watch
9 Ivan Provorov 6 Shea Weber
Last 5 Games: 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, +3 Last 5 Games: 2 G, 0 A, 2 P, +2
Offense has been hard to come by in this series, and in a potential clincher for the Flyers, defense will be the name of the game. Ivan Provorov is at the forefront of the play in front of the goaltender, and he continues to log a ton of minutes. His play hasn't been perfect, but in a time when you need your best players to do their job as effectively as possible, Provorov has the potential to completely shine.
In the last two games, there hasn't been a more dangerous player on the Montreal offense than Shea Weber. While Weber already plays stifling defense, his powerful shot is always a threat and he hasn't been afraid to attempt it multiple times. The Flyers have been courageous in getting in front of the Weber blast and blocking it, but you can certainly expect more the Montreal captain with the team's season on the line.
Projected Goalie Matchup
79 Carter Hart 31 Carey Price
6 GP, 5-1-0, 1.24 GAA, .958 SV% 8 GP, 4-4-0, 1.48 GAA, .949 SV%

Carter Hart made history with his second straight shutout in Game 4, becoming the second youngest goalie in NHL history to record two straight shutouts. Even in a back-to-back situation, how do you not go with Hart in this situation? He's helped to carry you through this series, even with the team playing solid defense around him, and you have a chance to close it out with a netminder who has been essentially perfect from a positioning standpoint for the last two games. Alain Vigneault played coy on lineup decisions, including who is in goal, but it certainly wouldn't be surprising if Hart was in.

With Montreal's backs to the wall, there's no question Carey Price is back in goal. If the Canadiens are going to make a push to come back in this series this is the most crucial game, not only because they have to win it, but because Price has an 0-2-2 record with a 3.76 GAA and .864 save percentage in the second-half of back-to-backs where he starts both games this season.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Left Wing Center Right Wing
12 Michael Raffl 14 Sean Couturier 93 Jake Voracek
49 Joel Farabee 13 Kevin Hayes 11 Travis Konecny
21 Scott Laughton 28 Claude Giroux 38 Derek Grant
82 Connor Bunnaman 44 Nate Thompson 18 Tyler Pitlick
9 Ivan Provorov 15 Matt Niskanen  
6 Travis Sanheim 5 Phil Myers  
8 Robert Hagg 61 Justin Braun  
79 Carter Hart 37 Brian Elliott  

Canadiens Projected Lineup

Left Wing Center Right Wing
90 Tomas Tatar 24 Philip Danault 11 Brendan Gallagher
13 Max Domi 14 Nick Suzuki 92 Jonathan Drouin
41 Paul Byron 15 Jesperi Kotkaniemi 62 Artturi Lehkonen
60 Alex Belzile 71 Jake Evans 40 Joel Armia
8 Ben Chiarot 6 Shea Weber  
77 Brett Kulak 26 Jeff Petry  
61 Xavier Ouellet 53 Victor Mete  
31 Carey Price 39 Charlie Lindgren  

Lineup Notes

  • Flyers: The Flyers made two lineup changes in scratching Nicolas Aube-Kubel and James van Riemsdyk for Game 4. Aube-Kubel was likely dealing with some effects of two blocked shots in Game 3 that left him in pain, but van Riemsdyk was strictly a healthy scratch. The Flyers then completely shuffled the lines and created all new combinations with the exception of the fourth line. Without knowing much about the lineup, a tactic of Alain Vigneault in these playoffs, these could stick for Game 5 or be completely shuffled again.
  • Canadiens: The Canadiens also changed up their combinations while keeping the same lineup for Game 4, but that could change now in a back-to-back with their season on the line. One possible addition to the lineup could be forward Ryan Poehling, who has shown some potential as a scorer in his brief NHL career and could give this already young Montreal team a boost in a game where they need to create offense. 

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (24th), Canadiens (T-18th)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (14th), Canadiens (5th)
  • Recent History vs. Canadiens
    • Nov. 7, 2019 – Flyers 3, Canadiens 2 (F/OT) (at PHI)
    • Nov. 30, 2019 – Flyers 4, Canadiens 3 (F/OT) (at MTL)
    • Jan. 16, 2020 – Canadiens 4, Flyers 1 (at PHI)
    • Aug. 12, 2020 (Game 1) – Flyers 2, Canadiens 1
    • Aug. 14, 2020 (Game 2) – Canadiens 5, Flyers 0
    • Aug. 16, 2020 (Game 3) – Flyers 1, Canadiens 0
    • Aug. 18, 2020 (Game 4) – Flyers 2, Canadiens 0
  • Flyers Leaders vs. Canadiens (Career Regular Season Stats)
    • Jake Voracek – 31 GP, 7 G, 22 A, 29 P
    • Shayne Gostisbehere – 13 GP, 2 G, 12 A, 14 P
    • Claude Giroux – 36 GP, 10 G, 16 A, 26 P
    • James van Riemsdyk – 39 GP, 16 G, 9 A, 25 P
    • Sean Couturier – 27 GP, 7 G, 12 A, 19 P
    • Carter Hart – 4 GP, 2-2-0, 2.85 GAA, .913 SV%

Where to Watch
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia/NBCSN
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic/97.3 ESPN

YWT: The Philadelphia Flyers Podcast

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